The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

I Need to Croak Out a Confession


In my seven years (we moved into our home in October of 2007 so I don’t count the first winter) gardening here in the Violet Fern garden, I have never spied even one toad or frog! Me, little Miss-let’s-build-a-wildlife-habitat in a village, hasn’t found but one toad or frog in her garden … until TODAY! I am giddy – doesn’t take much. I was walking back from the Potager with some fresh basil for breakfast pizza (hey, it’s a holiday, I’m celebrating my freedom to choose), when something hopped. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There right beside me was the most beautiful frog I have ever seen because it is the first frog I’ve ever seen in my garden! 

Wouldn’t you agree she is beautiful?

I say she because she is pretty large and her ears look to be about the same size as her eyes and I believe she is a Northern Leopard Frog. Males are usually smaller with ears larger than their eyes. According to Wikipedia and various other sources, Northern Leopard Frogs abandon their ponds in summer for grassy areas and are thus also known as Meadow frogs. They can be found up to a mile away from a water source! Well, we are only a block away from the St. Lawrence River, and she is sitting in the grassy (weedy) lawn path between the Bird & Butterfly and Woodland Edge gardens.

Northern Leopard Frogs have been declining since 1970 most likely due to habitat loss/fragmentation, environmental contaminants/pollution, introduced fish … Seeing a trend here? They are eaten by raccoons, other frogs, snakes, Blue Herons (I’m waiting for the day one stalks the Violet Fern Garden as they are common along the River), and human lawn mowers. The frog you dissected in high school was most likely a Northern Leopard Frog. I am ashamed to say (shhh I mean whisper – I don’t want her to hear), I probably ate Northern Leopard Frog legs when I was a little girl at the Elk’s Club in Wausau, WI.

They eat snails! (read below) and almost any kind of insect – crickets, spiders, and ants – yippee!

I think she’s heard me discussing building a pond for the past two years. Now I just HAVE to get that pond in this year!

Don’t you just love how the garden gives back and surprises? I remember spotting my first snail and being excited because I felt I was building something right – that I was in fact, creating a little ecosystem habitat. Now, of course, I have snails everywhere. Now, I also have frogs!

Sources: Wikipedia, National Geographic, EPA


Author: Kathy Sturr

Cultivating art, growing soul, and creating plant-based food in the beautiful 1000 Islands, New York and Cedar Key, Old Florida.

21 thoughts on “I Need to Croak Out a Confession

  1. “If you build it, they will come.” Congrats on your first amphibian!
    I put a little pond in by the front door and it took several years before it was found, so patience pays off in the end. I love my little visitors, esp. when they sing in the spring. 🙂 So get a liner and pump and you’ll be in business!

    • I know! I can’t wait Eliza! I am so motivated now to get my little pond in, filled up and running.

      • Remember, no fish! (They eat tadpoles.) 😉

      • I definitely don’t want any koi – I feel they look out of place here in North Country. I was considering Mosquito fish but nope, they would eat tadpoles, too. What I really want is to enjoy frogs and perhaps a few more Dragonflies!

      • Fish complicate pond balance because they poop a lot 😉 so the filtering has to be much more carefully monitored. I’m happy with my fountain, plants and native critters that find their way to the pond. Incidentally, mosquitoes won’t lay eggs on ‘bouncy’ water, hence the fountain.

      • Yes Eliza I don’t plan on a filter just plants and a spitter which I guess is a fountain – fountain sure sounds nicer. (:

      • Can’t wait to see pics of the finished project! 🙂

  2. I wonder if we’ll ever see frogs in this new garden. We do plan a pond. And we in turn have our endangered and protected leopard frogs in the wetlands near the Silvermine River.

    • Diana according to everything I’ve read if you build a pond, frogs will show up so I would say you will have frogs (if you don’t stock your pond with fish). I hope to attract more Dragonflies, too.

  3. Yipppeee Kathy! This is wonderful. These awesome frogs visit us early in our pond and then they leave as the green frogs and toads come to the pond….I can’t wait for when you get your pond. These frogs are out and about in the garden now as are green frogs during the day eating many insect pests.

    • Thanks Donna. I can’t wait for my pond either but I feel I need to reign in some of my garden before I begin a new project. But it is my goal to have the pond dug by fall!

  4. If this rain keeps up you will not have to build a pond, your garden will be the pond.

  5. I was thinking the plentiful rain might have contributed to you seeing your first frog. Of course, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a frog or toad there before, just that you didn’t see it! We see toads much more frequently than toads, although I do think I’ve seen a leopard frog around here before.

  6. She’s beautiful! I see toads in my garden fairly often, but not frogs. (On rainy evenings in late spring, I do get little tree frogs hanging on my screens and peering in the windows at me.)

  7. I totally get this feeling!!!! My youngest moved out after college this year to live (job)in Boston and work. I was clearing out his room. Yep, I am a horrible mother. I clear their stuff out and put it in rubber maid containers. I did come across a piece of wood where he had a skinned frog decoupaged on it-LOL-have no idea what that was about. I do remember the frogs in jr. high and high school. I never liked doing it but it was interesting.

    Funny you made this post for yesterday I was thinking, I have not seen any toads in our yard this year??? I have never seen a beautiful frog like your girl! She is lovely + I can’t wait to see your pond. We have a creek down a few houses in the ravine. I am a bit up from the creek between the houses, so I hear the frogs but they don’t come up our way. BUTTT…I did see more dragon flies this summer! I got excited to see more of them and some new birds, too. I totally get the excitement!

    • It is always exciting to discover something new in the garden Robbie! A bird, a toad, a snail, a bug … I hope I have more dragonflies when I dig my pond. I actually get quite a few being so close to the river. It’s mesmerizing to watch them hunt mosquitos. I think you will love getting away winters Robbie – so nice to see green most of the year instead of white. We dissected worms in high school, too. I hated high school.

  8. lol-build it they will come. My motto!

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